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People Are Noticing Energy-Conscious Boston

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has recognized Boston’s energy saving efforts as first in the nation. This is the second consecutive year Boston has been given this designation. A host of state and local policies and initiatives that are designed to help residents reduce both energy and water consumption puts Boston on the top of this list.

Energy efficiency means that homeowners, commercial property owners and governmental authorities can heat, cool and light buildings, deliver clean water and provide more efficient transportation at a lower cost. Those savings can provide the opportunity to fund other quality-of-life initiatives that make an area more attractive to businesses and residents over the long haul.

Boston was awarded 82 out of 100 points, and was the only US city to score more than 80 points on the Council’s annual report card. One initiative that earned major points for Boston was the city’s requirement that medium- and large-sized buildings report energy and water usage, and undergo an energy assessment every five years. Beyond simply reporting consumption, buildings that don’t meet stated efficiency targets must make energy improvements.

Boston also scored favorably for its climate action plan, which aims to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. A factor in this goal is the increased use of mass transit, in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road in the city. Another part of the climate action plan involves engaging residents to make them more aware of their greenhouse gas emissions and to provide ways in which residents can make their homes and commutes more energy efficient.

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can help you reduce your home’s carbon footprint in a variety of ways. We currently participate in a number of rebate programs designed to reduce the cost of switching to more energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment. We can also help you reduce your home’s clean water consumption, and take advantage of federal and state tax credits designed to encourage energy efficiency. If you’re interested in switching to a cleaner, more cost-effective fuel source, we can help you there, too!

If you would like more information about your home’s current energy consumption, or would like to learn how you can save money and reduce your fuel consumption year round, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We can conduct energy assessments and help you choose the best, most efficient and most cost-effective heating, cooling and plumbing equipment for your home or business.

New Survey Shows Trane Is Most Trusted HVAC Brand

A new survey released by Lifestory Research shows that Trane is the most trusted residential HVAC brand among American consumers. The results come from more than 10,000 surveys collected in 2014.

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating is a certified Trane Comfort Specialist, and this survey confirms our experience with the brand. Trane heating and cooling products are among the most reliable in the industry, and that’s why we recommend, install and service the brand.

Like Trane, we at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating are absolutely committed to providing the highest quality service and support to our customers. We have NATE-certified technicians on staff. What that means to you as a customer is that you can count on us to provide well-trained, industry-certified technicians to work on your heating and cooling systems.

As a Trane Comfort Specialist, we regularly attend training sessions, so that we’re up-to-date on the newest, most energy-efficient heating and cooling products for your home. We’re also trained to provide the most reliable service possible for units that are already installed in your home.

But we don’t stop there. We can also help you find financing programs, rebates and tax credits that are designed to reduce the cost of replacing old, inefficient heating and cooling units with qualified, energy-efficient new units.

Whether you’re looking for instant service for a malfunctioning furnace, boiler or heating unit (from any manufacturer), or you’re looking for an energy-efficient and cost-effective replacement strategy for heating and cooling your home, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We provide true 24/7 emergency service and fast, friendly consultations for all of your heating, cooling and plumbing needs.

MassSave Announces New ECM Incentive

MassSave is now offering an instant $100 discount on electronically commutated motor (ECM) circulator pumps through its Mass Save Residential Upstream Incentive Program. This is an excellent opportunity to reduce energy consumption and operating costs for homeowners with a hydronic or radiant heat system.

An ECM circulator pump varies flow rates within water-based heating systems, and increases the temperature difference between freshly heated water and water being returned to the heating unit. Both of these improve the overall efficiency of the system, and reduce the amount of energy required to heat a home.

An ECM is a “smart” device, and determines the minimum energy required to obtain maximum comfort. It can dramatically reduce the power consumption of a hydronic or radiant heat system without sacrificing comfort. Once installed, an ECM circulator pump doesn’t require any human intervention. It operates on standard household current and typically uses less energy than an ordinary household light bulb!

Traditionally, circulator pumps for a hydronic or radiant heat system provide a constant output. Constant output means continuous energy use. An ECM circulator pump determines whether maintaining optimal comfort requires additional output from the circulator pump. When no additional effort is required from the pump, the ECM regulates system circulation, and in the process, reduces energy consumption.

For example, a constant output circulator pump may circulate water in the system at a rate of 10 gallons per minute. This requires energy to both heat and circulate the water.

An ECM circulator pump may determine that the system can maintain the preferred temperature while circulating water at a rate of only 2 or 3 gallons per minute. The additional circulation rate is not required to maintain the preferred temperature, and just represents wasted energy. The ECM circulator pump reduces the flow of water through the system, reducing the energy consumed by the pump and using less energy to heat the water as it circulates.

ECM pumps are normally more expensive to install, but homeowners can recover this cost through reduced energy consumption. With this instant discount through MassSave, the price of an energy-saving ECM pump is comparable to the cost of a less-efficient traditional circulator pump. This means you can start saving money right away!

The program is designed for residential customers only. There are no rebate forms to fill out and the discount is applied at the time of installation; the installer will submit the proper documentation to the program administrator for processing.

If you have a hydronic or radiant heat system in your home and would like more information about an ECM circulator pump, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a consultation. Right now is a great time to prepare your home for the upcoming heating season, and reduce your operating costs at the same time!

High-Efficiency Heating Equipment Q & A

At Boston Standard Company, we’re all about high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. High-efficiency appliances can reduce your operational costs and open up options that traditional heating and cooling equipment doesn’t provide. Here are a few common questions and answers from our own Joseph Wood about high-efficiency boilers and furnaces, in case you’re thinking ahead for this coming winter.

Heating accounts for as much as 50% of a home’s energy costs in places like Boston. Can a high-efficiency furnace really help lower my heating costs?

JW: Absolutely. You can reach only about 80% efficiency with traditional chimney-vented equipment, so if you want more from your heating dollar, a high-efficiency furnace can get you as much as an extra 15%. When you account for the ability of high efficiency products to modulate the gas valve, you could very easily save in excess of 25% over what you’re currently spending with an older, less-efficient furnace.

My furnace is more than 40 years old, but it still works! Should I just wait until my current furnace quits, or are there other reasons to consider replacing it now?

JW: Sometimes producing heat and working properly are considered to be the same thing, but they’re really not. A system could produce heat, but could also produce high levels of carbon monoxide, for instance. That’s definitely not proper operation! When combining efficiency, safety and reliability, there are many reasons to consider replacing a boiler or furnace before it fails.

In addition, there is a great program from the gas utilities, the “Early Boiler Replacement Program.” There’s also an Early Furnace Replacement program. For those that take advantage of this program, you get a minimum of a $2,000 increase in the rebate. In my opinion, getting paid extra to replace an older, inefficient system is great, and you get new equipment on “your terms,” instead of having to deal with a broken boiler or furnace in the dead of winter! If you plan to take advantage of this rebate program, you need to start the ball rolling before September 30!

If I replace my furnace, what other costs – besides the new furnace itself – do I need to consider?

JW: Most high efficiency appliances require annual service and check-ups. Annual maintenance is the key to maintaining the high-efficiency operation (and money-saving ability) of these appliances. Maintenance on high-efficiency equipment can range from $200-$500 annually depending on system. If you have asbestos from previous installations, oil tanks or other similar issues, those should be considered as well.

The price of heating oil only seems to go up. What kind of savings can I expect if I move from oil to natural gas? If I convert, what other things do I need to think about? Are there other benefits to conversion?

JW: The gas utility claims savings of 30%, which isn’t far from what I normally suggest as well. While every year the temperature and cost of fuel will undoubtedly fluctuate, owning equipment that is 15% or more efficient than equivalent oil products will always be a good idea. Many customers appreciate things that have nothing to do with money when they convert to natural gas…. No more oil smell! No more running out of oil!

Are there any tax advantages to installing a high-efficiency furnace now? Are there any rebate programs I can take advantage of?

JW: There are tax programs that are available for high efficiency upgrades that start around $300 for a high efficiency product and go up from there. Right now, the biggest rebates are found through Gas Networks. You can receive more than $10,000 for commercial projects! Most homeowners would expect to see between $1,900-$4,400 in rebates for converting to high efficiency equipment, depending on the installation requirements.

Do-It-Yourself Plumbing Repair or Call In A Professional?

Plumbing repairs can be expensive, and they make tempting targets for homeowners looking to save money, but how should you make the decision to do something yourself or call in a professional?

Does the repair require special tools, supplies or knowledge?
In most cases, simple repairs and upgrades don’t require professional help. Replacing a leaky faucet (or replacing faulty faucet parts) is a classic do-it-yourself project. Faucet repair or replacement is something that the average homeowner can do. This requires no specific professional training, and only a few simple tools and supplies that most homeowners will already have on hand. What isn’t already in the toolbox can be easily obtained at a home improvement or hardware store.

Regular maintenance and cleaning also fall into this category. As long as you know what you’re doing, and know what your systems need, these also make good do-it-yourself projects.

Does the repair require a permit?
Repairs that need permits are more challenging, and may require special knowledge and/or equipment. If not done correctly, these repairs could jeopardize your personal safety or the sanitary operation of equipment in your home. If you have to pull a permit, you’re also going to need to have your work inspected. If your work doesn’t pass muster, you’ll need to fix the problems, redo the repair altogether or call in a professional.

Needing a permit isn’t an absolute red flag, but it’s a very good indication that you should think carefully about how to get the work done safely and completely before you start on the project.

Is the repair an emergency?
Bar none, emergency repairs are the worst. They seem to happen at the worst times – vacations, holidays, nights, weekends and the coldest (or hottest) day of the year are always prime time for emergencies – and their costs usually come entirely out-of-pocket, since many emergencies are not covered by homeowners insurance. When the cost of a repair is high and funds are low, it’s exceedingly tempting to think about “temporary repairs” and do-it-yourself options.

At times like this, your primary focus should be on the safety and well being of your home and family. Most professionals will work with you to help manage the cost of an unexpected repair. Additionally, for major systems like furnaces, water heaters, boilers and air conditioners, professionals can help you take advantage of rebates, tax-credits and local assistance programs designed to lower the cost of making these major repairs. These programs can include zero-percent financing, sizeable rebates on qualified replacement equipment and payment plans that can take the sting out of an unexpected expense.

If you would like assistance with a plumbing, heating or cooling repair or replacement project around your home, or would like to discuss options to help lower the cost of major system replacements, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to help you assess your situation and provide information about options that may be available to you!

Residential Clean Energy Grant Available for Boston Residents

Last month, Governor Deval Patrick announced a new residential clean energy grant available to all Massachusetts residents that will allow homeowners to save on the purchase and installation of renewable heating and cooling technologies. The $875,000 grant program will enable homeowners to claim rebates of as much as $10,000 when they upgrade their home heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems using qualified equipment.

To take advantage of the grant program, homeowners must install high-efficiency, inverter-driven air or ground-source heat pumps. High efficiency heat pumps can put out three heating or cooling energy units for each unit of electricity they consume. When used as a replacement for conventional electric, oil, or propane-based heating and cooling systems, heat pumps can reduce operational costs by as much as 50%.

The grant program is part of a larger effort by the Patrick administration to reduce heating and cooling costs for state residents, reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state, and create jobs in clean energy industries.

Currently, three manufacturers – Daikin, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi – offer air-source heat pump models that qualify for the grant program. Air source heat pump installations can qualify for rebates of up to $6,250 per applicant. Both central and mini-split heat pump technologies qualify for the program.

Installation of a qualifying ground-source heat pump may allow residents to claim a rebate of as much as $10,000. For ground-source heat pump installations, applicants should work directly with a qualified installer to ensure that their purchase meets the program’s selection and installation requirements.

Applications for rebates will be accepted until August 31, 2014 on a first-come, first-served basis, or until funding for the program is exhausted. Applicants must work with their installers to claim this rebate. Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating is certified to install qualifying Fujitsu and Mitsubishi products. If you would like more information about this program, qualifying products or other products that are designed to save on your heating and cooling costs, please contact us at (617) 288-2911 to set up a consultation.

Early Boiler Replacement Program Now Includes Furnaces

Massachusetts customers of NSTAR and National Grid can participate in the MassSave Early Boiler Replacement Program beginning April 15. Consumers who replace a working forced hot water boiler or steam boiler that is at least 30 years old may qualify for rebates of between $1,900 and $4,000, depending upon the type of boiler being replaced and whether the boiler is being installed in a personal residence or rental property. Qualifying forced hot water boilers must have an AFUE rating of 90% or better. Qualifying steam boilers must have an AFUE rating of 85% or better.

A new feature of this year’s program includes rebates for replacement natural gas furnaces. Homeowners can receive rebates of $1,000 on the purchase and installation of a replacement furnace with an AFUE rating of at least 95% and an electronically commutating motor (ECM). The existing furnace must be at least 12 years of age and must be fueled by natural gas, propane or heating oil. The newly installed furnace must use the same type of fuel as the equipment it is replacing. (Conversions are not eligible to participate in this program.)

Whether you want to take advantage of the Early Boiler Replacement program or the Early Furnace Replacement program, the key is that you must be replacing a working boiler or furnace. Non-operational equipment is not eligible for this replacement program. The first step in participating in this program is to have a MassSave Home Energy Services Program Site Visit performed by a participating contractor, like Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating. The site visit must be performed between April 15, 2014 and September 30, 2014, and the replacement equipment must be installed by October 31, 2014. Once the installation has been completed, submit the rebate form (available at the MassSave website) and the required documentation, and MassSave will process your rebate request.

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can also help you with financing options on qualifying boilers and furnaces to make this important home improvement project as painless as possible. Taking advantage of this boiler/furnace replacement program can allow you to begin saving money on operational costs immediately this fall. In addition, summer is the ideal time to perform a boiler or furnace replacement.

If you would like more information about the Early Boiler Replacement program, or the Early Furnace Replacement program, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 for details. We can help you get your MassSave Home Energy Services Program Site Visit scheduled and help you select qualifying, high-efficiency replacement home heating equipment.

MassSave Offers 2014 High-Efficiency Rebate Programs

Some of the federal tax credit programs that have been active in recent years are no longer available, but MassSave still has rebate programs that you can take advantage of. These programs can help lower the cost of replacing or updating your heating, cooling and hot water delivery systems, and they’re worth taking a look at.

New, high-efficiency heating equipment can reduce your operational costs by as much as 30%. By itself, that will help you save money immediately and provide a faster return-on-investment. Currently, these rebates are available to utility customers served by Berkshire Gas, Blackstone Gas, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Liberty Utilities, National Grid Gas, NSTAR Gas and Unitil Gas. Western Massachusetts Electric customers may also qualify for certain MassSave rebate programs.

Residential High-Efficiency Heating Equipment Rebate Program

MassSave’s current rebate programs for home heating equipment include:

$1,600 Rebate Integrated Water heater/Condensing Boiler with a boiler rating of >95% AFUE (Must be considered one unit by manufacturer)

$1,500 Rebate Forced Hot Water Boilers >95% AFUE rating

$1,200 Rebate Integrated Water heater/Condensing Boiler with a boiler rating of >90% AFUE (Must be considered one unit by manufacturer)

$1,000 Rebate Forced Hot Water Boilers >90% AFUE rating

$600 Rebate Warm Air Furnaces >97% AFUE rating equipped with Electronic Commutated Motor (ECM) or equivalent advanced furnace fan system

$500 Rebate Heat Recovery Ventilator

$300 Rebate Warm Air Furnaces >95% AFUE rating equipped with Electronic Commutated Motor (ECM) or equivalent advanced furnace fan system

$225 Rebate After-market Outdoor Boiler Reset Controls

$25 Rebate 7-Day Programmable Thermostat

$100 Rebate Wi-Fi Thermostat

Water Heating Equipment

In addition to rebates on high-efficiency heating equipment, you can also claim rebates for the purchase and installation of the following qualified water-heating systems.

$800 Rebate On-Demand, Tankless Water Heater with an Energy Factor of 0.94 or greater

$500 Rebate
• On-Demand, Tankless Water Heater with an Energy Factor of 0.82 or greater, or
• Condensing Gas Water Heater with a 95% Thermal Efficiency or greater (75 to 3000 MBH)

$400 Rebate Indirect Water Heater Attached to a Natural Gas Boiler

$100 Rebate ENERGY STAR-labeled Storage Water Heater with an Energy Factor of 0.67 or greater

If you would like more information about these rebate programs, which are available through December 31, 2014, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 for more information about the programs, or to get started with a home energy assessment.

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Forecast for Boston: Turn up the heat!

Weather forecasters are predicting that 2014 will be the coldest winter nationwide in three years. For homeowners in Boston, heating will become a high priority! Here are a few tips to help maintain your heating equipment, stay warm and save money at the same time!

Turn down your thermostat – to a point.
You’ve heard the advice – “Turn down your thermostat while you’re away.” – and if you do it right, it’s a good tip. You can save money by not keeping your home heated to your preferred temperature when you’re at work or gone for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean that you should let the temperature free-fall in your home, though. You’ll actually spend more money returning your home to your preferred temperature if you turn your thermostat down too far, or turn it off altogether. A good rule of thumb is to let the temperature in your home fall by no more than about 5°F. Beyond that, your furnace will be working harder and consuming more energy to warm your home on your return.

Your high efficiency furnace needs your help!
High-efficiency furnaces start out saving you a lot of money on operational costs, but if you don’t maintain them properly, they won’t work at peak performance. High efficiency furnaces should be cleaned, inspected and maintained by a professional at least once per year, and filters should be changed every month on a regular schedule. Thinking about skipping the maintenance? Don’t! High-efficiency furnaces can lose as much as 10%-15% in operational performance each year they’re not maintained. Not performing maintenance can also shorten the lifespan of critical components and the high-efficiency unit in general.

Watch snow and ice buildup around your high-efficiency exhaust ports.
If you have a high-efficiency furnace and your intake and exhaust ports exit the home through the foundation wall, make certain that your ports don’t become clogged with snow, frost or ice during the winter. Never allow the fresh-air intake port to become blocked by anything. (Your furnace will quit working!) Don’t store anything in front of the ports and don’t allow vegetation to grow or accumulate near these ports during the summer. Completely clear all snow within a 3-foot radius from around the ports.

Consider an oil-to-gas conversion.
If you use fuel oil to heat your home, your return on investment from switching to natural gas will be almost immediate. You’ll improve the efficiency of your heating equipment and significantly reduce the cost of heating your home in the winter. You’ll improve the safety of your home by eliminating the possibility of toxic oil spills in or around your living space. (You may also reduce your homeowner’s insurance bill by switching!) You’ll also avoid the risk of running low on fuel during a cold spell, or having to pay a large oil bill midway through the heating season.

If you would like more information about saving money on heating your home this winter, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 for a consultation. We can provide information about programs you may be eligible for to reduce your heating bills, making low-cost improvements to your heating and cooling equipment and keeping your home safe this winter.

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2013 Boston Heating and Cooling Rebate Programs

Want to reduce the cost of heating? Boston homeowners can still take advantage of a number of programs designed to reduce the cost of making energy-efficient improvements around your home. Here are a few of the programs that can reduce the cost of purchasing and installing new heating equipment, and can also help you save money on operating costs throughout the year!

Early Boiler Replacement Program Boston homeowners still have a little time to take advantage of the Early Boiler Replacement Program offered by National Grid. If your home has a working boiler that is at least 30 years of age, you may qualify for a rebate of between $1,750 and $4,000, depending upon the type of boiler you have installed right now. Qualified homeowners must begin the boiler replacement process before September 30 to take advantage of these generous rebates. Installation of the new equipment must be completed by November 1.

Programmable Thermostats. You can save money on your heating and cooling bills simply by installing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can help you save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling costs throughout the year, and help maintain the comfort level of your home year-round. Right now, you can collect a $25 mail-in rebate on the purchase of one programmable thermostat, or $50 on the purchase of two programmable thermostats.

Residential High-Efficiency Heating Equipment Rebate Program Boston homeowners can collect rebates of between $25 and $1,500 on the purchase of high-efficiency home heating equipment, including programmable thermostats, Wi-Fi thermostats, warm-air furnaces, forced hot water boilers, integrated water heater/condensing boiler units, outdoor boiler reset controls, heat recovery ventilators and a variety of water heating equipment, including both tankless and conventional water heaters.

Mass Save HEAT Loan 0% Interest Financing for 2013 Mass Save offers 0% financing on qualified energy-efficient home improvements including high efficiency heating systems, central air conditioning/ air source heat pumps, ductless mini split heat pumps, high efficiency domestic hot water systems, solar hot water systems and 7-day digital & Wi Fi thermostats. HEAT Loans are a great way to reduce the cost of replacing your heating and cooling equipment and allow you to take advantage of the savings that high-efficiency equipment can offer.

Heat Pump Water Heater Rebate Boston homeowners can take advantage of this rebate when they replace an existing electric water heater storage tank with a qualifying electric heat pump water heater, or install an electric heat pump water heater in new construction.

Now is a great time to replace older, less efficient equipment, save money immediately on the purchase and installation of new equipment, and save money on operational costs over the lifetime of your high efficiency equipment.

For more information about these programs or to learn about how you can take advantage of these rebates and special financing programs, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911 to set up an in-home site visit or consultation. We’ll be happy to help you make the most of these exceptional, money-saving programs.

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